SPIN-ing a Farm Vision into a Plan

Courtesy of Wally S., Wally’s Market Garden, Pleasantdale SK

The farm startup plans keep coming in. We’re in changing times, but the reasons people are giving me for wanting to farm now are the same as they’ve always been. Their farm plans are pretty much too. Here’s a typical one:

“We’ve got 2 acres total. I’ve been really pumped about this lately and my mind is a whirlwind of thoughts on processes, plants and infrastructure. Here is some background information and a sense of what the vision is. The approach will be no-till focused and is to primarily farm cut flowers augmented by vegetables and fruit. We currently¬† have a common pear and two paradise apple trees on the property and plan on introducing dwarf fruits, nut trees and bush fruits. We also want to provide a space for photo opportunities within the flower framework as well as occasional, (small number) vendor opportunities involving crafts and antiques. We also plan to construct several outbuildings, including a barn and high tunnel(s) so as to extend the growing season, start early and grow some specialty items as well as generally support the overall operation. This is my 15000 ft view.
P.S. We’re not 20 anymore so time is of the essence.. lol.”

This is not a plan. It gives me a headache, just trying to follow it. As is typical of many people we’re hearing from,he and wife are holding down 9 to 5 jobs while trying to launch this thing. So I understand the sense of urgency.¬† I know visions are what inspire people. But here’s what’s missing: 3 numbers and 2 lists. With that, anyone who knows the SPIN-Farming system can do a useful business assessment in a half hour, on the back of a napkin, over a beer.

Look, I’m not knocking the vision thing. For over 20 years I’ve been looking at the world through SPIN glasses and seeing farms everywhere. What I also see are farmers with grand visions who struggle to get them off and in the ground, and dig themselves into financial holes they can’t get out of. Their visions become just more farm hard luck stories.

I know visions inspire people, but they aren’t worth a hill of beans unless you figure out how to pay for them. And that’s the really tough farm work SPIN helps you figure out how to do.

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